September and its annoying routine has started up again, so I thought I’d write about holidays again. I’m back today to share my second part of my Canada Travel Diaries and I am very, very, very excited to get back to it and to get lost in all the memories again.
In case you missed it or didn’t know, I got lucky enough to realize one of my biggest dreams this summer: visit Canada. This country and both Montréal and Toronto had been on my bucket list since forever and, in the summer of 2019, my sister and I got lucky enough to hop on that plane across the Atlantic and just do it. After five days spent visiting and exploring Montréal, we headed off to Toronto, our second part of this trip.
☂️ In case you missed it, you can read my travel diaries on Montréal right here.
Small heads-up: this is a looooong post… but lots of pictures, too!! I hope you’ll enjoy it.
🌊 Day One in Toronto: Toronto Waterfront
We spent half of the first day actually on a train, since Toronto is a little over 5 hours away from Montréal. After discovering the Canada landscape a little bit, reading our travel guide and just, getting ready and hyped up to see the city, we finally arrived at Toronto Union Station around 3 in the afternoon. The second we got off the train station, we spotted the CN Tower and gasped and hurrily ran towards our hotel to leave our luggage and get back out there to explore it all.
For our first afternoon there, we decided to stay put and calm (for once) and to explore Toronto’s Waterfront a little bit a.k.a the Lake Ontario. We headed off to a short walk in the gigantic streets, surrounded by towering buildings that made us feel like the smallest people in the world… which felt strange, overwhelming and exciting all at once, because we’re not really used to things being this massive, here in France where we live. After a short walk and a gazillion pictures of the CN Tower (the star of our trip, really. We’re big, big fans), we made it to the waterfront. People and families were milling around, tourists taking pictures and people partying on boats and, way closer than we thought it’d be, the Toronto Islands watched over us from across the water. Way, way closer than we thought they’d be, massive commercial planes took off right above the Lake, too. I mean. I’m happy we didn’t take off from there because, shudders.
🏙 Day Two in Toronto : CN Tower, Old Toronto & St Lawrence’s Market, City Center
On our second day in Toronto, we’re back full speed and doing everything all at once, because that’s just how we are.
We head off first thing in the morning to our star, the CN Tower, because we’re tourists and we just can’t miss a stunning view okay. Being there before 9 in the morning is also, honestly, the best tip I have to offer for this attraction, because we didn’t wait a single second or queue for even a minute. At all. After a surprisingly quick elevator ride, we found ourselves towering over the city of Toronto, even more impressive from above than from the ground.
We took tons of pictures, walked for half a second on the glass floor because, despite the sign telling us it can hold I don’t know how many elephants, we’re not that into it and overall marvelled at the gigantic city that stood below our feet.
Back on the ground, we set off to explore the Old Toronto. We crossed Union Station off our list, even though we had already half visited it when we arrived, spotted the Fairmont Royal York Hotel sitting right across from the train station. We were shook once again by just how damn big everything is here as we saw the Sun Towers, gigantic twin towers. After a couple more minutes of walking, we headed off to see the local Flatiron Building, also called the Gooderham Building. It was really, really beautiful and the contrast between modern and ancient buildings is, as always, impressive.
The next must-stop on our list was the St. Lawrence Market. In a beautiful building, the market is filled with food from all around the world and packed with people, obviously. We made our way around the stands filled with bread, cheese, meat and fish and alive lobsters roaming around in aquariums, delicious pastries that made me want to EAT everything here and more. We settled down here for lunch and opted for an italian sandwich that was the size of our heads, with chicken, mushroom, eggplant and tomatoes. It was delicious.
We took a little detour down the streets during the afternoon, meeting the local tramway for the first time, crossing paths with the beautiful Cathedral Church of St. James and getting lost among all of the massive buildings.
💦 Day Three in Toronto (Well, not really): Niagara Falls & Niagara-On-The-Lake
We left Toronto the next day, for the entire day. While we were all the way over here, across the Atlantic, a short ride away from one of the wonders of the world, we weren’t about to pass up on an opportunity to see it. So, early on Sunday morning, we took off to see the Niagara Falls.
We were really worried at the gray skies as we left the city, but as we drove down the roads heading towards our destination, the sky cleared and, when we arrived a little over an hour and a half later, the skies were a bright blue… yet the windshield was slowly getting rained on. My sister and I stared at each other frowning. We were meters and meters away from the falls and the sky was blue blue blue, yet when we got outside, we were, well, soaked. We were maybe over 50 meters away from the actual falls and we were getting soaked on by all the humidity already. I mean… What the heck.
That what the heck duplicated like a thousand billion times when we arrived in front of the Falls, where all we could see were glimpses of a massive, massive waterfall through a foggy steam. It was impressive and strange and as we found a spot a little farther away from the crowds, it was breathtaking.
We opted to head off to get a better view of the Niagara Falls. In this place, one of the most popular thing to do is to get on a boat and head off … almost under the falls. See, it’s not that we didn’t want to get wet (I mean, we already were) or that we were scared of drowning (okay, maybe a little, I mean, the FORCE of it is insane already from afar). It’s just that we wanted the views.
So we head off to the Skylon Tower, a tower offering stunning views (and a restaurant…if you’re hungry. It was 10 am. We weren’t that hungry) of the Niagara Falls and we didn’t regret a thing. We could see the stunning Falls from above and, right behind, the United States of America, the city of Buffalo a little farther away and just. Wow.
We took it all in for a little while then headed back to the city of Niagara Falls right next to it all to explore. The city felt overwhelming despite its small size, clearly a place made for tourists and for everyone to have fun, fun and fun. Attractions everywhere, haunted houses and wax museums, food food and more food and a lot of music. Not my kind of city, to be honest, but well, still disorientating.
After lunch, we headed back north following the Niagara River and made a last stop at Niagara-on-the-Lake, apparently the cutest village up there. It was small, human-sized compared to everything we’d seen before, filled with little shops and I ate a giant cookie with chocolate, caramel and M&Ms on top because… well. It’s me.
🏝 Day Four in Toronto: Toronto Centre Island, Chinatown & Kensington Market
Remember that first day, when we arrived and spotted the Toronto Islands across from us? On our fourth day in Toronto, we took the ferry and went there. Supposedely, it had the best views of the city and…. well, friends, I never took that many pictures in a day in the entire trip until that moment.
A short 15 minutes ferry ride took us to the Centre Island. You can bring your kids for a picnic or have fun on playgrounds, bring your bike for a bike ride or something… it seemed to be a very, very popular spot as, even early in the morning, the ferry was packed. We went our way once we arrived, walked across a little bit of mud and next to adorable little ducks and just arrived, there.
One of the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen on this trip, really.
We spent too much time staring and taking way too many pictures, exploring the island and enjoying its calm and peacefulness, seeing planes taking off above the water before heading back to the main land and the bustling city.
We took the tramway for the first time heading off to Chinatown and the Kensington Market afterwards, spotting beautiful houses and strange cars, eating waffles and obviously people noticing we are French because of our accent while we order.
🏛 Day Five in Toronto: Downtown Toronto, City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square and I’m buying books!
We were lucky, really, because during our entire trip, it only rained one day in Toronto, and it was on our last day. I had decided that it was the day I could FINALLY go buy books so… that didn’t bother me too much.
Before that, though, we took the subway and headed off to Downtown Toronto to see the Old and New City Hall. As always, impressive buildings compared to what we call City Hall here in France, aerm. We spotted the Toronto sign under gray skies, walked on the local Times Square, Yonge Dundas Square and found shelter in the Toronto Eaton Center, a big great shopping center just in time before the rain started.
We spent the day making piles of books in the local Indigo Store and wishing we had both more money and more luggage space for it all. When you’re not used to having bookstores like that, let me tell you, it feels like a dream. We did some shopping and tried to enjoy it all as much as we could.
The next day, we headed off to the airport, back to our 17 hour-long journey back towards home. We were even more exhausted than when we arrived, because jetlag this way is the absolute worst, but you know what, if I had to do it all again, I would a thousand million times, because that was a dream come true and I really, really can’t wait to make more dreams come true like this one.
Do you want to go to Toronto? Did you get the chance to visit already? What are some places on your travel bucket list?
I hope you enjoyed reading this travel post! Let me know your thoughts in comments!